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Machines Who Write [Think Piece]
April-June 2013 (vol. 35 no. 2)
pp. 88
Stephanie Dick, Harvard University
In 1936, Alan Turing remarked that "computing is normally done by writing certain symbols on paper." Although computing was then the prerogative of human computers, Turing imagined that machines might calculate by writing as well. Turing intended for this notional machine to be analogous to human computers who calculated by writing and manipulating symbols, relying on paper to augment their memories. But to what extent is Turing's machine actually writing and reading like a human computer? Recent scholarship in the history of mathematics has argued that mathematical thinking and practice are inextricably entwined with the historical development of different cultures and systems of writing. Looking at computer writing as writing directs historical attention away from abstract formal representations of hardware and software and toward the materiality of data--how it is inscribed and configured within specific digital media.
Index Terms:
Mathematics,Computers,Writing,Programming,Turing machines,book history,history of computing,Alan Turing,Logic Theory Machine,Allen Newell,Herbert Simon,John Clifford Shaw,RAND Johnniac,Alfred North Whitehead,Bertrand Russell,Principia Mathematica,automated theorem proving,history of mathematics,media history
Citation:
Stephanie Dick, "Machines Who Write [Think Piece]," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 88, April-June 2013, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2013.21
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